• Nathan Smith


As the EFL heads to its second-midweek matchday, we highlight four games that you must check out…

The Championship – AFC Bournemouth vs Bristol City (28th October – KO 7:45pm)

One of the three unbeaten teams in the EFL, Bournemouth face their toughest test yet as they welcome second place Bristol City. Bournemouth themselves currently sit in fourth, but have stuttered recently, drawing their last three games. It was a 95th minute equaliser that spared their blushes against Watford so they will be looking to build on that late momentum. The Cherries have found some strength at the back, with experienced keeper Asmir Begovic recapturing some of the form which earnt him so much praise a few years ago.

Like Bournemouth, Bristol City have also stuttered in recent times, after their first loss of the season last week against Middlesbrough, they also had to equalise late to avoid defeat to Swansea City. Dean Holden will be hoping to get back to winning ways but a trip to the Vitality Stadium is certainly no easy game. With the partnership of Nahki Wells and Chris Martin starting to show real signs of working, both will be looking to help the Robins get the three points.

This will be a big opportunity for both sides to gain ground on Reading and maybe start to put a winning run together. It will more than likely be a tight affair with a high intensity, making this game must-see.

League One – MK Dons vs Wigan Athletic (27th October – KO 7:00pm)

It has not been an easy start for MK Dons this season, sitting in 23rd after eight games. After an impressive 2-0 win against Gillingham, Russell Martin’s side have reverted back to their previous form losing their last two, against Oxford United and Blackpool. Despite losing five of their opening eight, MK Dons have kept an average of 66% possession but with an average of one goal per match, they need to start putting the ball in the back of the net more often, alongside keeping it out of theirs.

After wins against Portsmouth and Crewe Alexandra, Wigan Athletic have struggled, not winning any of their last four. John Sheridan’s side have come off a decent 1-1 draw at home against Plymouth, but will want to get back to winning ways and solidify themselves in League One. With MK Dons heavy possession-based style, Wigan will look to hit Martin’s side on the break, and with the likes of Viv Solomon-Otabor and Gavin Massey, they have the players to do that.

In what could be billed as an early season six pointer, MK Dons will look to put an end to this poor run of form which has them in the relegation zone. Wigan know a win at Stadium MK will put a gap between them and the bottom four.

League Two – Carlisle United vs Morecambe (27th October – KO 7:00pm)

It has been a pretty good start for Chris Beech in his first full season in charge of Carlisle with them sitting in seventh currently. Unbeaten in their last five, Carlisle’s strong defence has almost betrayed them in recent times, with them conceding in their last three games. Beech will be hoping that Carlisle can turn the two successive draws into wins and with the likes of Gime Traore, who’s dribbled past 19 opponents (third highest in the EFL), Beech’s side could capitalise on their opponent’s poor defensive form.

After a great start which saw Derek Adams side unexpectedly lead League Two, Morecambe have had a reality check over the recent weeks. Having not won any of their last three, the Shrimps will need to bounce back before they find themselves falling lower and lower down the table. A 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Crawley pinpointed some of these weaknesses, before being held to a 1-1 draw against Mansfield and then losing 2-1 at home to another promotion contender in Forest Green.

Morecambe will need to snap out of this current form if they want to get their automatic promotion hopes back on track, but Carlisle have play-off ambitions and they know a win at home against Adams side will put them onto that path.

WILDCARD – Swansea City vs Stoke City (27th October – KO 7:45pm)

Despite losing homegrown centre back Joe Rodon to Tottenham, Swansea had a pretty strong deadline day. Potentially replacing Rodon with young centre back Joel Latibeaudiere arriving from Manchester City, and bolstering their attack with dynamic midfielder Ryan Manning and playmaker Kasey Palmer joining the Swans from QPR and Bristol City respectively. On the pitch, it has been a good start for Steve Cooper’s men currently sitting in sixth. They have struggled for wins lately, with none in their last three games and they will be looking to put that right against one of the division’s in-form teams in Stoke City.

Michael O’Neill’s side have not lost in their last five, with their most recent result being an impressive 3-2 win against Brentford. With Tyrese Campbell and Harry Souttar having their breakout season in the red and white, alongside the experienced players like Steven Fletcher starting to find their goalscoring touch, the playoffs do seem possible for this Stoke team. This Stoke team does seem different to the previous iterations since their relegation from the Premier League, and the sky is the limit for the Potters.

A win here for Stoke really starts to establish them as play-off contenders and does probably the same for Swansea. Both sides haven’t been afraid to find the back of the net and hopefully this game will provide a lot of entertainment.